South Asians are usually very keen on cricket. But it doesn't seem that way during this World Cup.
The World Cup lacks the traditional South Asian passion
It has been nearly a month since the ICC World Cup 2011 started. Generally, according to the cricket experts, the World Cup has so far lived up to the expectations. The media coverage of the World Cup has been massive across South Asia. In India, for example, it seems there is no other news except that covering the World Cup.
But many people have noticed the lackluster. Is something missing in the World Cup? The interest of the Indian cricket fans soars when the "Men in Blue" have a match. Same is the case with the other World Cup hosts, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. But considering that the biggest cricketing event is being played in South Asia, one wonders why it lacks the traditional passion which the South Asian cricket fans are known for exhibiting?
England fans celebrate victory
'50-over matches are too long'
Even the ardent fans of the game are not so interested. They are waiting for the preliminaries to finish and the knockout stage to start.
Siddharth Chatterjee from Kolkata told Deutsche Welle: "I have been a cricket fan all my life but this World Cup is way too long. I don’t have the time to watch a nine-hour match. I watch the games if India play their matches on a weekend, otherwise I don’t."
Muthuraman from Chennai echoes the same: "I only watch India's matches, but one can’t escape the World Cup. The media bombard us with the news about the World Cup all the time."
Channels fight for the ratings
Indians are crazy about their Men in Blue
The ESPN-Star Sports channel is doing whatever it can to recoup the billions it has spent to get the TV rights of the World Cup. The pre, mid and post-match analytical shows, which are put together to give sponsors maximum air time, are not going down well with the Indian cricket fans. News channels are focusing on the sport so much that they are neglecting other important domestic and international stories, whereas newspapers are usually allocating up to 75 percent of the space in their sports pages to the World Cup.
However, the TV ratings of the World Cup are quite strong across India, but the key reason for that is the increase in the number of television sets and the access to cable and satellite television in India since 1997. The other reason is that the Indian team plays its matches mostly on the weekends, which naturally increases the number of the viewers.
At the cost of other sports
Most prefer to watch if their home country is playing
The Indian football fans have even filed a petition against the ESPN-Star Sports for not giving enough coverage to the English Premier League. This has gathered so much support that even the mainstream media have reported about it. The ESPN-Star sports says it is not taking football off completely but due to the Cricket World Cup it is giving less air time to other sporting events.
Some cricket fans are waiting for the Indian Premier League (IPL), the world’s most lucrative T20 league, to kick off just days after the World Cup final.
"This 50-over Cricket World Cup doesn’t interest me. I am waiting for the IPL to start and hope that this year my team, the Delhi Daredevils, will do well," said Steve Singh from Delhi.
And the danger is that if the host countries are out of the World Cup, not many people in India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh will be interested in watching the remaining matches.
Author: Arunava Chaudhuri
Editor: Shamil Shams